Japanese Language School Duration Question

みなさんこんばんは。にほんごのがっこうはしつもんがあります。

I plan on trying to get up to JLPT N2 after I graduate with my Bachelors in Japanese Studies, Information Science, and minor in Studio Art, I plan on working for 1-2 years to save $50-$60k. I plan on getting a Student Visa to Japan to attend Japanese language school and get into Japan. Once I am in, I plan on attending language school, then eventually taking the entrance exam to get into Tokyo Art Community College to take their college programs and refine my skills to a commercial/professional level.

My question is if I reach N2 before I immigrate to Japan, how much language school will I need to be completely fluent and read/write/converse at a competent Japanese level, as well as a Business Japanese level? 1 year? Half a year? At the moment, I am taking beginner Japanese classes and am learning fairly quickly as it’s a Summer course, and we are almost halfway through Genki I.

Any answers on the recommended duration of a Japanese language school would be appreciated.

ありがとうございます。

If you can get a job out of school where it’s possible to save $50,000 in 2 years, I would say just keep that job >_>

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The reality is there is literally no answer to this question because there is no real agreed upon definition for “completely fluent”. If you want a good estimate, you’re going to need to really flesh out what that means to you and describe the things you want to be able to do with what level of accuracy.

There are some people who probably consider N2 fluent. I personally would say that 3+ years of hardcore study (5000+ hours) would be the minimum after getting n2 to reach my idea of complete fluency. I say minimum because I’m being very generous with my own experience and not giving much weight to the fact that I haven’t even learned to write or use business Japanese on the assumption that you’ll progress much faster than me if you’re at a language school in Japan. That may not actually be the case though. Regardless, what I am hoping to highlight with this is that it massively depends on your definition of completely fluent.

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Like Leebo said, If you can do that in 1 or 2 years I’m curious what your actual ambitions are and why you would bother with any of this stuff at that point. Like the average income for people in their late 20s is $50k. Unless you are living rent free with your parents feeding you every meal, I am not sure how this is possible.

To the other stuff, I’ll tell you what my dad told me many a times while traveling in the car, “We’ll get there when we get there!” Each part of learning Japanese is it’s own skill that requires time and dedication. I spent 3 years doing 書道(しょどう)writing every Saturday, conversation classes twice a week, and read and watch Japanese material every day and I am still not fluent. It’s not impossible to get there in less time, but it is more likely you will get there at a slower pace, especially if you’re at a job where your putting away that much extra money.

Japanese Language schools aren’t a scam per se, but they are overpriced in my opinion. Can you get pretty good with a language school? Sure. Is it worth the cost? Probably not considering you will be able to move quicker on your own.

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OTOH if you want to be able to live in Japan and find out whether you even like the place, while studying more or less full time, for a lot of people they are the only option (because there aren’t other visa categories that would work). And if you’re planning on attending a course at a Japanese college then you definitely need to be reasonably conversationally fluent, which means speaking practice. If you don’t have Japanese people in your life already, that means paying for some kind of conversation partner or tutor anyway.

To have a stab at answering the OP’s actual question, the language school I went to has a course outline that suggests 9 months to cover the N1 content, so that seems like a good lower bound. I don’t think I’d have been confident taking a college entrance exam having just passed N1, so my guess would be you’d want more time than that. I would not expect “complete fluency” at that point, or even after a second year, but I think it ought to be enough to take that college entrance exam. Then it’s really the time you spend in college having to keep up with classes and interacting with other students that will drag you the rest of the way.

This also depends on how you spend your language school time. If you go at the pace of the class, doing the necessary homework and study to keep up but not much more, that will likely mean you take more time than if you spend a lot of your free time in self-study directed towards your personal goals. (Yamasa had enough classes that if you tested highly at the end of a 3-month term you could skip up a class, as well as optional after-school extras like classes in keigo and business Japanese). But you might well find you have a better time if you give yourself a less punishing schedule with some time off to just enjoy being in Japan…

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Been there, working 90 hours per week, some jobs aren’t worth keeping

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I do not want to live in this country (America). I am dead set on moving out when I can, and studying at Tokyo Arts Community College to achieve my goals and my dream

My mother told me that the university I am going to, companies scout out these graduate students for jobs. They said my starting salary can be up to $90k per year. But the thing is I don’t want to do IT for a living. I want to move out of the country and work in the creative industry in Japan.

Yes I know it will be hard. No, I have heard literally every foreigner discouraging me from moving to Japan and working there.

I want to work in the game industry in Japan and make my own company some day. I want to also want to become proficient enough to do commercial concept art, illustrations, and 2D/3D animation

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This is a pretty solid answer. Thanks for that. Yeah taking Summer classes and a full workload at University has already gotten me into some good study habits as well as time management and work ethics at my previous jobs. So the fast paced Japanese language classes will probably be just a little more hardcore than my Summer Japanese courses I’m taking at uni right now (it’s every day with homework and 2 quizzes literally every day, as well as mid-terms, finals, oral exam, and demonstrations of Japanese. Pretty hardcore. We’ve covered almost half of Genki I in just a few weeks

Well, I guess my point is more that if you can do something that amazing you don’t need advice or help from us.

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I’m not trying to discourage you. Just putting out what I know and some info to guide you to a better decision (but I’ll admit I don’t know what’s best for you, that’s an answer only you have). Do what you want, and it will probably work out, because if it doesn’t work out you’ll learn something valuable along the way. I am a big believer in that. I was just surprised you could put that kind of money away so quick is all. Personally I love my life in Japan. My sister moved here at the same time as me and had the exact opposite experience (she has high pride and unwilling to change, so that was what did her in). She moved back home and got married, so it all worked out in the end.

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Hopefully you have the capacity to understand that not only will it be hard, but that it will probably be a lot harder than you are expecting. Language barriers, opportunity barriers, visa problems, turning bitter to the culture, loneliness, and frustration probably await you in greater amounts than you’re expecting.

I know one guy who studied Japanese and came here from Canada and got into Law School here as a normal student (taking the normal entrance exams meant for Japanese people). Talking with him about his routine and life makes it clear he is the definition of exceptional. And, I guess that’s where I’m going with this…

You want something that’s going to be very hard and most people who want it fail to achieve it. So you need to be the exception. Now, personally, it you think you can do it I say go for it. Nothing I respect more than people who say screw the odds and become the exception through their own hard work.

Now this is the part where I get a little brutally honest. Getting a degree in Japanese studies and getting N2 by the time you’ve graduated does the opposite of scream “exceptional” to me. I personally envision someone with so much drive that a university pace couldn’t possibly hope to keep up with them and what they will achieve in their own free time by their own volition. Your dreams have “special” written all over them, but what I’ve read so far about what you’re doing it kinda leaves the impression of “standard”. My knowledge of what you’re doing is limited, but that does sum up my impression. Looking into self study methods instead might be worth it.

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Probably many years. It depends how outgoing you are I think. If you love/are able to talk a lot with people, especially in a foreign language, it will be less.

There is a massive difference from college language class and using Japanese in the real world. Try to get speaking buddies asap. This will also lessen the time required to become fluent.

Also it will depend on how much you study. It will likely need to be WAY more than what is required in your college class.

Good luck!

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